JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time during the regular season, the NFL is dealing with the impact of a COVID-19-related schedule change as Sunday’s scheduled game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers was pushed back because of an outbreak of positive coronavirus tests within the Titans' locker room and organization.
Nine Titans, including four players, tested positive for the virus prompting the game to be pushed back at least to Monday night.
While the Jaguars roster has been unaffected by the virus since the start of the regular season, head coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday that he spoke to the team about being vigilant in following the health and safety protocols put in place by the league and the players association.
“I really believe that the way the league is set up, the protocols and the contact tracing and everything from that nature has at least given us the ability to go ahead and continue to play these games,” Marrone said. “I think that this is a great opportunity right now for all of us in this league, coaches, players, support staff, to remind ourselves, with a lot of these openings that are going on, of our awareness of once we’re outside the building and what we’re doing.
"Knowing that you test every single day, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be exposed to it because those tests don’t come back until the evening, so that virus can incubate and go. I think it was a great opportunity. We took the beginning of our team meeting today and really reemphasized that protocols that have been in place and hopefully something like this won’t happen again.”
Under the current protocols, the NFL does not test players on Sundays but does test players and coaches every other day of the week. Outside of the Titans-Steelers game, no other games have been impacted, though teams continue to move players on and off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Jaguars have one player, running back Ryquell Armstead on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
In the wake of the Titans-Steelers postponement, some have suggested adding testing on Sundays, when most NFL games are played.
“I just trust what the league does and the doctors and it’s also the PA (NFL Players Association) people are involved and there’s consultants,” Marrone said. “I mean there’s a lot of smart people on that stuff that they know more than me. Like I said, I’m trying to do the best job I can for this football team and have them tell me what the protocols are and try to make sure that we abide by them.”